We Were Made to Marvel

Classical music is timelessly beautiful and uniquely suited to draw out our often repressed sense of marvel.

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Is Hip-Hop Becoming the New Hymn Book?

I remember as a new Christian people would quote these antiquated, flowery, profound lines from songs. They would skillfully deploy the quote like a baseball player executing a hit-and-run with a line drive over the second basemen’s head. The quotes would drop in the Bible Study or prayer meeting with powerful profundity. This was evidenced by the corporate, “Umm…” or “Amen.” I never quite got to the point of trying to execute this type of poetic contribution, but I have always appreciated it.

Now I believe there is a new bag of powder for our musical muskets. Here in 2013 the new hymns writers are hip-hop artists. Now before you shake me off with a pffffh, hear me out. I have seen a recent swell in the number of references to songs during a time of gospel-shaped discussion. And when I say reference I don’t mean that someone is saying, “Man did you hear Lecrae’s new track, that joint is fresh!” (they may say that but I don’t mean that). What I mean is people reference the hip-hop songs in order to add value to a gospel-shaped conversation.

In the last several months (and even this morning) I have heard multiple people reference a song by Lecrae, Shai Linne, Tedashii, and others to help further elucidate the point being made. This is a marked transition and development.

The question that remains is, “Why?” I’ll give you two reasons.

First, Christians have always reached for music to …

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New Music I Can’t Shut Off

Ever since I downloaded Josh Garrels new album it seems like it has been playing. Like so many artists, I enjoy his voice and the overall musical sound. However, unlike many artists, his lyrics are arresting. In particular, as a Christian his songs complete the narrative of life with the gospel. This is so refreshing. I am sure you see how powerful this is. Many musicians are good because they are honest about the narrative of life, but so few are able to complete it with anything except hopelessness on the one hand or pollyanna-ism on the other. And, regrettably, many Christian artists fail to be honest about the pain, guilt, and fear that is present in our lives–and how the gospel answers it! The tragic consequence is an eclipsing of the beautiful power and relevance of the gospel of Christ. This is where Josh Garrels takes center stage and why he is dominating my iPod.

Crazy thing is…it is free. I would easily pay the $8.99 at Amazon for this but he is giving it away on his website. Check it. And pass it on.

Also, take a listen to this song. It is one of my favorites:

“Farther Along” – Josh Garrels from Josh Garrels on Vimeo.

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Discovering that Country Music is Basically the Same as Hip Hop

One of the advantages to living in Omaha is the fairly eclectic musical tastes. I have seen this first hand this summer as we travel about to take in my son’s Legion baseball games.

During these games the home teams try to create a bit of atmosphere. As you can imagine music is a big part of things. With the various tastes in various locations, we get a grab-bag of music. Sometimes it’s classic rock, other times it’s hip-hop, still others country. It’s all over the map.

Through this I was surprised to find out something else that is all over the map: low-brow, lame, sex songs.

I am not surprised at what I hear with hip-hop music. I grew up listening to it. I get it. While I cringe, I know what they are doing.

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How Bon Iver is Helping Me with Missions (sort of)

This week one of my favorite artists, Bon Iver, released a new album. The lead singer, Justin Vernon, has a unique voice and style. With his eclectic mix of sounds I find myself listening in all sorts of settings (study, running, driving, etc). It usually always works.

Earlier this week I listened to an interview conducted by NPR with Vernon. They touched on an interesting subject. The words. Perhaps, more specifically, what do the words mean?

Vernon didn’t flinch. He basically said that he picked words that sound good. He wasn’t so much concerned with their meanings. He is more concerned with the sound and the feelings it produces.

Now on one hand, I don’t like this. After all, I am a pastor. I spend days on end with words. It is my life to wring out words and fill buckets with meaning in light of context. This goes against the grain of everything I do.

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All I Have is Christ

I have enjoyed the album Looked Upon from the Na Band for a couple of years now. There are many soul-stirring, Christ-magnifying songs on there. Recently at the Together for the Gospel conference we sang “All I have is Christ” from this album. It was great. And the song remains great because the truth behind the song is true!

So…in effort to expose more folks to the album and the song here is a video with Devon Kauflin singing the song…enjoy!

(Looked Upon via Amazon)

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The Moving Story Behind the Hymn ‘It is Well with My Soul’

Today in history, 1873, the steamship Ville du Havre was struck by an iron sailing vessel while crossing the Atlantic. 246 people died, including the four daughters of Chicago lawyer Horatio Spafford. His wife Anna survived. Just two years earlier their four-year-old son died of scarlet fever, and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 financially ruined him.

While sailing the Atlantic to reunite with his wife after the death of their girls, he penned the beloved hymn, It Is Well with My Soul (the original manuscript is pictured to the right).

Here is Mars Hill on his life:

(ht: Justin Taylor)

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The Storyline of the Bible in 4 Minutes

Shai Linne has quickly become my favorite hip hop artist in this new stream of Reformed rap.  One of the things that I particularly like about him is his clear, quick and weighty rhymes.  He is able to turn a phrase quickly and powerfully with the eternal weight of truth behind it.  One such song on his new album Storiez is The Greatest Story Ever Told whereby he walks through the biblical story from Genesis to Revelation in a clear Christological and not less than doxological manner.  It is quite good!

Here is Shai at the 2009 Worship God conference in Maryland (I have included the lyrics also)..

Here are the lyrics:

It’s the greatest story ever told.

A God pursues foes whose hearts turned cold.

The greatest story ever told.

Restoring all that the enemy stole.

The greatest story ever told.

The glory of Christ is the goal, behold.

The greatest story ever told.

It’s the greatest.

Alright check it: let’s go back in time, brethren. Divine lessons always keep your mind guessing. The glory of the Triune God is what I’m stressing. The origin of humankind was fine. Blessings were plenteous. God is amazingly generous. Crazy benefits in a state of innocence. God told the man what he could taste was limited. Not long after came our nemesis in Genesis. He scammed well, man fell, damned to hell. The whole human race—he represented it. Fooled by the serpent, man through his work, woman through birth—even the earth ruled by the curses. But instead of a wake immediately. God …

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Torture Music: When Barney becomes Jack Bauer

Some of the music that is most frequently used by the United States military to torture….err….lawfully interrogate prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay has been recently identified.

A couple of the songs should cause some parents to rethink what they are exposing their children to.  On the top of the list:

    “I Love You,” from the “Barney and Friends” children’s TV show.
    “Sesame Street,” theme song from the children’s TV show.

I can see that.  You can just see the extreme terrorist.  He has been training his whole life for his career in terrorism.  He can withstand broken bones, water-boarding, beatings, and verbal abuse.  But when the loud speakers pump in that purple dinosaur and his favorite “I Love You” song, they crumble like blue cheese.

Here are some of the other songs they use.  How many of these are on your iPod?

    “Enter Sandman,” Metallica.
    “Bodies,” Drowning Pool.
    “Shoot to Thrill,” AC/DC.
    “Hell’s Bells,” AC/DC.
    “Born in the USA,” Bruce Springsteen.
    “Babylon,” David Gray.
    “White America,” Eminem.

I wonder if they turned on the Christian radio station if that music would be Christological enough to torture the militant Muslims.  I am on a bit of a personal rampage against what I’ve heard on the radio.  Maybe its just me but to hide Jesus and his work behind shallow subjectivity is offensive.  To take the LORD and King and make him your boyfriend and prom date is more offensive than what Metallica does.  Anyway, I’m off track (but that is kinda what blogs are for.  More on this …

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New Coldplay EP for less than a buck

I know that many of you, like me, enjoy the music of Coldplay.  Their “Prospekt’s March EP” (released yesterday) is available for a limited time for $0.99 on Amazon.  This is a great deal, but especially good for new stuff from Coldplay.

Here is the link.

This is for the MP3 Download version only (which operates much like iTunes and even automatically adds it to your library of choice).

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